Semolina bread is bread which is made with semolina flour, a flour derived from durum wheat. Durum wheat is the hardest wheat available, and it produces a distinctive flour which is famously used in pasta. This bread may be made entirely from semolina or with a mixture of semolina and another flour; in either case, it has a rich flavor and a distinctively chewy texture.
In Italy, semolina bread is better known as pane di semola, and it is often made on special occasions, especially on the island of Sardinia. Semolina is instantly recognizable, thanks to its golden color, and the more semolina flour used, the more yellow the bread will be. In some cases, the bread may be a creamy white, while in others it can be a vibrant golden yellow.
Like other traditional Italian breads, semolina bread is designed to be made with a starter, known as a biga. Starters pull wild yeasts from the air by creating an environment which is favorable for them to grow in. When mixed with flour, salt, oil, and water to make bread dough, the yeasts begin to slowly ferment. The slow fermentation time yields a much more complex flavor and a very chewy texture, and although it means that the bread takes longer to rise, many bakers believe that using a starter is worth the extra effort.
The slow fermentation involved in the production of semolina bread produces a classically open crumb which is both soft and chewy. The crust of this bread is typically very crisp, and it may be decorated with chunks of coarsely ground semolina, or sesame seeds, along with other toppings. Many people find that this bread has a faintly buttery flavor, which is difficult to explain, since butter is not involved in the recipe.
There are all sorts of uses for semolina bread. It can be dipped in oil or various dressings and eaten plain, or smeared with butter to enhance the buttery flavor. Some people like to make sandwiches with semolina bread; it tastes particularly excellent with a smear of soft cheese and a handful of olives. This dense, moist bread will keep for several days when wrapped in paper; if it starts to go stale, sprinkle a slice with water and toast it briefly to revive it.